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Girl rescued from child labour is a symbol of hope

 PUBLISHED IN NDTV    Reported by Tanima Biswas, Edited by Samira Shaikh | Updated: June 12, 2013 18:26 IST

 New DelhiA 14-year-old girl from Jharkhand, who was rescued from a home in Delhi where she was kept locked-up by a couple while they were away on a vacation, is now enjoying her days in freedom. She was rescued in March last year from the flat where she spent seven months as a domestic help for a doctor couple.

The girl is in Delhi again, where she addressed a function on the occasion of the World Day Against Child Labour today. She narrated her plight as the domestic help in the couple’s apartment and her life after she was rescued.

“My mother wanted me to study. I wanted to help out the family as my father was ill,” she said. A placement agent had brought her to Delhi from Gumli in Jharkhand, she added.

Surviving on little food after the couple left her locked-up in their Dwarka apartment, she had finally mustered the courage to shout for help from the balcony, which led to her rescue. She had later said that her employers used CCTV cameras to monitor her activities, and that she was beaten, abused and her hair was chopped off by them.

Today, she lives in a residential school and is studying in the seventh standard in Jharkhand. She says she loves football and she hopes to become a teacher one day. As for her life one year back, she has this message for her former employers: “I hope they don’t ill-treat any other girl like they treated me.” The couple was arrested for the harassment along with the placement agent, Mukesh, for buying or disposing of any person as slave.Nishi Kant, a member of NGO Shakti Vahini, says the girl’s mother had to be persuaded to allow her to go to school and it only worked out because she was offered some compensation.

Child labour is illegal in India, with several laws in place which can land a person in jail for employing any child below the age of 14.  However, children are still reportedly employed in many industries and homes across the country. Some work in hazardous environment, while many are pushed into forced labour, or are sold into prostitution. This 14-year-old’s story will stand out as an inspiration to many children who reportedly return to the city to work after being rescued, showing  them that there is way out of the vicious circle of child labour.

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